August-September 1814: Lieutenant-General Rowland Hill (1772-1842)

General Rowland Hill

By August of 1814 there were numerous reports of additional 8-15,000 fresh regiments on their way to America, destined as rumors spread, for the Chesapeake to join Major General Robert Ross. To command was to be Lieutenant-General Rowland Hill, the Duke of Wellington’s most trusted officer and like General Ross veteran of the Peninsula campaigns. Hill was held in high esteem by his officer corps as well as the soldiers.

At a London dinner General Hill suggested such a command would be “sufficient to chastise the Yankees, and bring the war to a speedy termination.” Hill though had not desired the appointment “though it will be politic to keep up the idea of a large force going to America.” On 10 August Earl Bathurst, Secretary of State in London informed Hill that it was not to be. However before news would arrive in America the Battle of Bladensburg would have been fought and an attack on Baltimore eminent. The Niles Weekly Register informed its readers on 24 August that Lord Hill was to have “more fresh regiments on the way.”

Baltimore, fearful for a second assault, despite the repulse of the British on 14 September made preparations for a British military reinforcement expedition that never came to be. By 17 September Admiral Cochrane was still expecting reinforcements. Writing to Lord Melville “…the ball is at our feet, – and give me but Six thousand Men – Including a Rifle and Cavalry Regt., and I will engage to master every Town South of Philadelphia and keep the Whole Coast in such a State of Alarm, as soon to bring the Most Obstinate upon their Marrow bones.”  Such were the rumors of the day. Smith kept the militia at Baltimore until 15 November just in case.

Sources: The Life of Lord Hill, G.C.B. Late Commander of the Forces by Edwin Sidney (London: John Murray, 1845); Baltimore Patriot, October 15, 26, 1814.

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Published in: on January 15, 2012 at 11:46 pm  Leave a Comment  

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